The New Student's Reference Work/Buchanan, James

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Buchanan (bŭk-an'an), James, fifteenth president of the United States, was born at Stony Batter, Pa., in 1791, his father having emigrated from Ireland in 1783. He was admitted to the bar in 1812, and soon obtained a fine practice. In 1821 he waselected to Congress, and remained there ten years. In 1831 he was sent by President Jackson as minister to Russia, where he made the first commercial treaty between that country and the United States, which gave our merchants many valuable trading privileges on the Baltic and Black Seas. Two years later he was elected to the United States senate, of which he was a member for 12 years, until 1845. Here he was an active and able supporter of the doctrines and measures of the Democratic party, as well as a strong upholder of slavery and the rights of the separate states. When President Polk was elected, he made Buchanan secretary of state; and under President Pierce, he was appointed minister to England. In 1856 he was elected president. During his administration a Mormon rebellion in Utah was quietly settled. In the last year of his administration the trouble between the north and the south came to a head, and in December, 1860, South Carolina withdrew from the Union. The president declared that Congress had no power by the constitution to prevent any state from withdrawing if it wished and that the president could not treat with the representatives of any state, but must refer the matter to Congress. Soon afterward, Lincoln was elected president. Buchanan spent the remainder of his life at his home in Lancaster, Pa. In 1866 he wrote a book to defend his administration. He died in 1868.

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